Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani (I even LOVE LOVE his full name) born May 11 1932, best known as Valentino, is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the Valentino SpA brand and company. His main lines were Valentino, Valentino Garavani, Valentino Roma, and R.E.D. Valentino. His first choice for an apprenticeship, in Paris, was Jacques Fath, then Balenciaga. He found an apprenticeship with Jean Desses where he used to help style icon countess Jacqueline de Ribes sketch her dress ideas. He then joined Guy Laroche for 2 years.
After five years, Valentino left Jean Desses under a cloud over an incident about prolonging a vacation in Saint-Tropez that still makes him wriggle uncomfortably today. Rescued by his friend Guy Laroche, he joined his “tiny, tiny” fashion house.
In 1959 Valentino ‘left Paris and moved back to Italy and opened a fashion house in Rome on the posh Via Condotti with the backing of his father and an associate of his. More than an atelier, the premises resembled a real “maison de couture”, being it very much on the line of what Valentino had seen in Paris: everything was very grand and models flew in from Paris for his first show. Valentino became known for his red dresses, in the bright shade that became known in the fashion industry as “Valentino red”.
On 31 July 1960 Valentino met Giancarlo Giammetti at the Café de Paris on the Via Veneto in Rome. Giammetti would shortly after abandon the University to become Valentino’s business partner. Valentino’s international debut took place in 1962 in Florence, the Italian fashion capital of the time. His first show at the Pitti Palace was welcomed as a true revelation and the young couturier was deluged by orders from foreign buyers and enthusiastic comments on the press.
In 1966, confident of his client base, he moved his shows from Florence to Rome and there, two years later, he had one of his greatest triumphs, an all-white collection, which became famous for the “V” logo he designed.
In 1998 Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti sold the company for approximately 800 million Euros (US$1.1 billion) to HdP, an Italian conglomerate controlled, in part, by the late Gianni Agnelli, the head of Fiat. In 2002, Valentino S.p.A., with revenues of more than $180 million, was sold by HdP to Marzotto Apparel, a Milan-based textile giant, for $210 million.
On September 4, 2007 Valentino announced that he would retire fully in January 2008 (above picture) from the world stage after his last Haute-Couture show in Paris. He delivered his last women’s ready-to-wear show in Paris on October 4.
More reasons to love Valentino
Valentino ADORES dogs to the point that he once named a second line of clothing after his late pug Oliver. Today Valentino owns six pugs: the mother, Molly; her sons, Milton and Monty; and her daughters, Margot, Maude and Maggie. When traveling on his 14-seat Challenger jet, three cars are needed to move Valentino and his entourage to the airport: one to move Valentino and Giammetti, another for the luggage and the staff and a third to transport five of six Valentino’s pugs as one of them, Maude, always travels with Valentino.